Once again Boris has let down the Red Wall seats he was elected to serve, this time with a U-turn on Cumbria’s planned mining project, announced last night.
The Cumbria mine, we are told, “sends the wrong message” ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow this year. Indeed, cancelling might make for good messaging to the international Green elite, but it will harm jobs for struggling British workers and could make the environment worse.
The project is essential for UK steel-making (the coking coal is used for steel production rather than power generation) and without it, mining jobs simply move to Russia where factories are far more polluting.
Sadly it is part of a trend, and key industries like steel, in which Britain was once a world leader, could soon disappear altogether.
All this despite the fact Brexit means we now have the power to make such sectors competitive again.
Boris came to power on a pledge to “level up” the UK after Brexit and bring back jobs to struggling manufacturing regains. But he seems to be doing the very opposite.
Jobs and production will continue moving abroad, mainly to China, unless the government rethinks its punitive ‘Net Zero’ policies and how to approach plans to go “carbon neutral”.
Last week, court filings revealed that 5000 jobs at 12 Liberty Steel plants across the UK are at risk, as the lender, Greensill Capital, collapsed.
UK Steel revealed this week that our steel makers are paying £254 million in additional bills when compared to French and German counterparts.
This is mainly because electricity prices in the UK are between 60 and 80 per cent higher, with climate policies accounting for the bulk of this difference.
That is hardly surprising since UK subsidies to renewable electricity generators now amount to about £10 billion per year.
Unfortunately, those handouts to green energy firms drive up the cost of living, increasing upward wage pressure, and further eroding our international competitiveness.
Bosses and workers might blame each other, but in truth they have a common grievance with No. 10.
Worse still, industrial electricity prices in Europe themselves are nearly 50 percent higher than in the G20. In China and India, meanwhile, industrial electricity prices are estimated to be just a third of UK prices.
Because of this, the steel industry and other energy-intensive industries can no longer compete in the global markets.
China already accounts for more than half of the world’s steel production and the UK now sits below the likes of Egypt, Belgium, and Vietnam.
Steel is essential for our military and key industries, such as car manufacturing and food. Off-shoring it to potentially hostile nations such as China is not only economically nonsensical, but potentially a security risk.
While coal consumption in China, India and most of Asia, continues to surge as their economies boom, Britain’s renewable energy policy is driving up energy costs relentlessly, making British businesses uncompetitive across the board. Domestic steel making is the canary in the mine.
And the rise in electricity prices is only going to get worse – much worse. The Treasury thinks the overall cost to the UK economy of Net Zero by 2050 could be £1.275 trillion, a number the government battled to hide for two years.
My organisation successfully forced them to reveal the number last week after a gruelling Freedom of Information battle and ruling by the Information Commissioner. However, I still think the number is a huge underestimate.
But the EU has a problem, too. “[European Union steel firms] are set to be overtaken by Asian rivals that don’t have to comply with similar rules imposed by Brussels,” Express.co.uk reported on Monday.
Yes, industrial power there is cheaper that in the UK, but it is nearly 50 percent higher than in the G20, and way above China. Trade unions on the continent have warned 11 million jobs are at risk.
Now the UK is out of the EU we can be more flexible and adapt more quickly than our European competitors. We should take advantage of this freedom to rethink Net Zero policies and gain the advantage.
In fact, there is a compelling alternative option: If the UK were to switch to nuclear energy and natural gas, instead of unreliable “renewables” like wind and solar, Britain could generate electricity much more cheaply and much more reliably, whilst reducing CO2 emissions at the same time.
Doing so could save our steel industry, bring thousands of jobs home, and help reduce pollution by stopping offshoring manufacturing to China.